The mobile sector is feeling the squeeze of
the economic downturn, Mobile’s
survey on the climate on the shop floor reveals. Costs are being cut in most
companies and retail staff have been the first to feel the pinch in their
The majority of people working in mobile
retail – both in the independents and the big chains – say they are finding it
hard to make commission and, as a result, their monthly income is down.
Of all survey respondents, across the
mobile industry, three quarters say they are left with less money at the end of
the month compared with one year ago because of higher living costs and lower
Distributors, the section of the industry
that has gone through a tough time over the past year, still seem to have more
confidence in the market than other parts of the industry. Almost half of the
respondents from distributors say that there is more confidence in their
company now than there was a year ago.
But worryingly a third of the respondents
from distributors feel there is no change in the level of confidence from last
year, when the distribution market was in turmoil and 22% feel that there is
even less confidence.
Almost half of those who took part in the
survey say that costs have been cut in their company in the past year. Vodafone
saw some significant cost cuts, which led to mid-ranking redundancies and
reshuffles earlier this year. Similarly, Phones 4u and Carphone have both
initiated ‘restructures’ and redundancies of mid-level managers. Only a third
of respondents say they have seen an increase in the number of customers over
the past year.
Dealers, however, are a group featuring
prominently among those that say they have seen a fall in the number of
customers over the past year. Retail in general is the front line when it comes
to cutbacks in consumer spending.
The lower retail spend that has hit high
streets is showing in the mobile sector too. Networks and the large multiple
mobile retailers like Phones 4u and Carphone Warehouse are tightening their
purse strings and the shop staff feel they have been hit with lower monthly
takings, the survey reveals.
Basic salaries have changed very little for
shop staff, the survey shows, but many have been hit by lower monthly
commission than what they have been used to.
Overall, two thirds of shop staff say they
find it harder to make commission now then they did a year ago, while only 23%
say it’s easier.
Most retail staff also feel that the amount
of commission they take home at the end of the month has fallen. Thirty-seven
percent say the commission they make is significantly less, and 46% say it is
slightly less than it was a year ago. Only 14% of survey respondents from the
major retail stores say they are making more commission compared with last
3 trialled a different commission
structure, based on volumes rather than shop targets, over the summer. The
survey shows that the vast majority of the operator’s store staff say it’s now
harder to make commission and that they make significantly less than they did
Carphone’s dramatic move to completely cut
out commission hasn’t had an impact on staff earnings yet. A large chunk of
Carphone staff’s earnings currently comes from commission so, once implemented,
the pay structure overhaul is likely to make a massive change to staff
T-Mobile has recently seen commission
changes, which were implemented from the start of this month. Similar to 3,
shop staff are now paid according to the number of boxes they shift, instead of
commission being tied to store targets. The impact, however, has not been
registered in the results.
The changes got a mixed reaction from
T-Mobile store staff when they were announced at the start of September. Some
felt that bigger stores with higher footfall would benefit more, while others
welcomed the simpler system.
Pressure from higher up in the company has
also mounted since last year. Almost two thirds of the survey respondents from
retail say they are under more pressure from their bosses.
Shop managers are especially feeling the
pressure. Over three quarters of managers and assistant managers who replied to
the survey say they are under more pressure from their bosses now than they
were a year ago.
Just under half of all sales staff feel
more pressure than they did last year, and 37% say there is less pressure.
One of the main causes of pressure for
managers as well as shop staff could be the cut in costs most companies are
experiencing. Fifty-five percent of retail respondents say costs had been cut
in the company they work for over the past year, and half of those say cuts had
Cuts in costs have led to longer working
hours in retail. Just over half of the respondents said that they are now
working longer hours than they did a year ago, while 38% said there had been no
change in their working hours.
Phones 4u staff are especially feeling the
pinch. As a result of a recent board review, the company decided to take steps
to ‘streamline the business’. This resulted in 60 office jobs being made
redundant and the IT side of the business being outsourced to India, and the
uneasy feeling has filtered down to retail. Three quarters of the Phones 4u